When Rick and I first starting going out his mother was dating a lovely man named Arnie. Arnie was a very kind and good natured fellow and he taught me how to water-ski. So add patience to his list of virtues.
He also made the best popcorn balls and when he made them he made TONS of them so you never felt like you had to ration them. Nope, you just dove in and ate as many as you possibly could, knowing there were more where that came from.
Alas Rick's mom and Arnie parted ways but not before I got his popcorn ball recipe from him. It is the perfect combination of salty popcorn and chewy sweetness holding it together.
This is a fun project but you will need two large containers to mix the popcorn and syrup together. We used a huge stock pot and actually split the recipe in half and just did it twice (since I don't have two huge stock pots). Arnie used to do it in two large roasters. We found it helped to butter the mixing container first, before adding the popped popcorn. You will also need a candy thermometer.
Here is the recipe, updated for our modern sensibilities (microwave popcorn). Makes approximate 40 popcorn balls:
Arnie's Popcorn Balls
8 bags of the lightest microwave popcorn you can find, popped (approx. 40-45 cups)
4 cups sugar
1 cup corn syrup
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. vanilla
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook until firm ball stage (245 degrees Fahrenheit). Remove from heat and add vanilla. NOTE: If you are using unsalted popcorn (doubtful if using microwave popcorn) add 3 tsp. of salt.
Pour syrup over popcorn, stirring well to coat evenly. Butter hands and form into balls. Wrap in plastic wrap.